Of Gods and Men Reviews
The making of the film largely emphasizes the type of life these men choose to lead. They have virtually n0 contact with the outside world, and do almost nothing every day except pray and sing. The way they live is eye-opening to say the least. They are completely isolated, except for the visits they receive from the Muslim terrorists. The main monk holds several meetings to decide if they should leave or stay and tolerate the continued treatment. Each one struggles with the choice, wondering if their mission where they currently are is worth becoming martyrs for. Some almost leave, but they all choose to stay by the end.
The film makes the viewer really experience the sheer loneliness and mindset of the monks. There is no background music and virtually no additional lighting. The dialogue is infrequent, mainly focusing on their quiet reflections. It feels very much like a documentary with the lack of conventional filmmaking techniques and infrequent use of dialogue, but the individual performances of each monk will make you care about each one, and make you feel all the more saddened at their untimely fate.
As slow burns go, Of Gods and Men is one of the most compelling. Tightly scripted and slowly but tensely paced, as this story unfolds, the film's themes emerge subtly: the film portrays the austerity of faith and how faith leads to a sense of security and conviction. While I'm not personally committed to these theses, the film's portrayal is richly textured and compelling. By the end of the film, we get to know these monks about as well as we get to know anyone in an understated French film, and it's hard not to admire them.
Overall, this is profound and compelling story well-told.